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A high-class call girl kills a customer in self-defense. To avoid scandal, her parents try to have her declared mentally incompetent. Not helping matters is that she is very distrustful of everybody, including her court-appointed attorney, and is very disruptive during her court hearings. Written by
Tony Berkoff <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dreyfus and Streissand in Another Great Martin Ritt Film
This is the third of three great courtroom dramas from that time. "And Justice for All,"(1979) and "The Verdict," (1982) were the other two.
Because of all the courtroom dramas on television in the 1990's and 2000's, many of the things in the movie now seem as clichés. It is important to remember that it was quite original when it came out. It is only cliché today because it has been copied so much since. Women were generally terrible victims of much psychiatry in the 20th century, this film, "Francis" (1982)and "Suddenly, Last Summer" (1959) are the only three movies that really demonstrate that.
The cast is full of great actors and actresses in small rolls: Eli Wallach, James Whitmore, Maureen Stapleton, and Karl Malden know that less is more and underplay their roles smoothly. The only problem with the casting is Leslie Nielsen as a crazy client. Nielsen became so associated with spoofs like "Airplane" and "The Naked Gun" one almost laughs automatically when he's on the screen, no matter how serious the scene is. Stars Richard Dreyfus and Barbara Streisand are at the top of their form and work well off each other.
The one criticism of this movie that is valid is Streisand's age. She is a bit too old at 45 for the character who is supposed to be in her late 20's. It is a minor irritation, and we should remember that male actors in their 40's also frequently play such roles. For example, Brad Pitt was 41 when he played Achilles, and Sylvester Stallone was 60 when he played in his last "Rocky" movie.
This is Barbara Streisand's grittiest movie with rape, incest, and madness being key themes, yet it still has a lot of witty lines and funny moments. It is just well balanced and well done. The DVD contains some fascinating commentary by Ms. Streisand.
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